Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Development has reportedly given employers one month to return passports to their employees.
Saudi Gazette reports that the country’s Council of Ministers first banned employers from keeping passports seven years ago.
The labour ministry has also said that employers will be fined SAR2,000 ($533) if they failed to return the passports of their non Saudi employees.
However, the response from employers has been slow.
The National Society for Human Rights previously called for the abolition of the country’s current sponsorship system in 2010.
It called for the removal of the requirement for workers to seek their company’s permission to call their families or perform Haj, as well as the cancelling of responsibility of the employer for the employees actions outside of work.
The society’s secretary general, Khalid Al-Fakhiri, was quoted as saying holding on to an employee’s passport was a form of human trafficking.
“What binds the employer and the employee is the contract. The passport is a personal document. No one has the right to take it because it becomes a crime of abuse and denial of rights,” he said.